Colour Me Free!

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Colour Me Free!
Studio album by Joss Stone
Released 20 October 2009 (2009-10-20)
Recorded 2008; Blakeslee Recording Company
(North Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, United States)
Electric Lady Studios, Legacy Studios
(New York City, New York, United States)
Kensaltown Studios, Maida Vale Studios, Titan Studios
(London, England)
Mama Stone's
(Wellington, Somerset, England)
Genre Soul, R&B, funk
Length 52:29
Label Virgin
Producer Joss Stone, Jamie Hartman, Dan Mackenzie, Phil Ramone, Conner Reeves, Raphael Saadiq, Jonathan Shorten, Sacha Skarbek
Joss Stone chronology
Introducing Joss Stone
Colour Me Free!
Alternative cover
US and Canadian cover
Singles from Colour Me Free!
  1. "Free Me"
    Released: 22 September 2009

Colour Me Free! is the fourth studio album by English recording artist Joss Stone. Originally scheduled for an April 2009 release, Stone's label, EMI, pushed back the album's release to July;[1] it was ultimately released on 20 October 2009. Stone explained to Germany's Radio Bonn/Rhein-Sieg that the song "Free Me", released as the album's lead single on 22 September 2009,[2] is about "being free in every sense, especially in music senses."[3] In the United States, the album's physical and digital releases were made available exclusively through Target and iTunes, respectively.[4]

Colour Me Free! debuted at number ten on the US Billboard 200, selling 27,000 units in its first week.[5] However, it underperformed on the UK Albums Chart where it only spent one week at number seventy-five before dropping out. The song "4 and 20" was included on the soundtrack to the 2010 film Valentine's Day.[6]

Production and promotion[edit]

Stone stated that the album was written and recorded in about a week in Devon in early 2008, along with musicians and writers.[7] It was recorded mostly at Mama Stone's—a music venue in Exeter, Devon, owned by her mother, Wendy Joseph, which also enjoys recording studios and writing facilities—, where Stone also kicked off a promotional tour of concerts in several cities across the United Kingdom, including Bristol, Birmingham, Leeds, Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester and Dover.[8] Her only US performances to support the release were at the 2009 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California on 18 April and at Club Nokia in Los Angeles on 23 April.[9]

Conflict with record label[edit]

It has been reported that Stone is willing to forfeit £2 million to terminate her four-album deal with EMI due to her discontentment with the label after it was taken over by private equity firm Terra Firma in 2007, stating that they have "no working relationship". EMI refused to free her and is taking legal action in return, claiming she is in breach of contract by failing to deliver the master tapes for Colour Me Free!. Stone expected to deliver the album in late 2008 so that it could be released in February 2009. "They were supposed to be launching the album in April but now they've postponed it until July. I just don't know what's happening with it. They really need to pull their finger out. I've worked very hard on this record and I don't know what the plans are until EMI confirm a release date", she went on to say in March 2009.[10]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic (67/100)[11]
Review scores
Source Rating 4/5 stars[12]
Allmusic 3/5 stars[13]
Boston Herald B+[14]
Chicago Sun-Times 2/4 stars[15]
Entertainment Weekly B[16]
The Independent 4/5 stars[17]
Los Angeles Times 2.5/4 stars[18]
Metro News 4.5/5 stars[19]
New York Post 3.5/4 stars[20]
PopMatters (6/10)[21]
Stone promoted the album on live performance.

Colour Me Free! received positive reviews from most music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 67, based on 7 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews".[11] The Observer '​s Hugh Montgomery called it a "decent comeback [...] which eschews her last LP's hip-hop leanings for more straightforward retro soul funk", adding that "what most impresses is her voice, which has acquired emotional resonance to match its size."[22] Jim Farber of the NY Daily News perceived the album as a "considerable leap ahead" for Stone and stated that it showcases "a far more stripped-down sound than before, which leaves more room for Stone's newly grounded vocals to shine."[23] Mark Edward Nero of commented that on Colour Me Free!, Stone "further expands her creativity and songwriting abilities and has come up with an album that fuses the old-school Soul feel of her first two albums with the hip-hop influences of her third record. The result is a great balance of well-written, beautifully sung and expertly-produced new-school Soul songs that, when put together, make up the best album of her career so far."[12] Graham Rockingham of Metro News raved that the album has "a sonic depth that you can reach in and caress, which is something you can usually only find on old Stax or Muscle Shoals LPs. Yet Stone manages to merge her '60s leanings with more contemporary sounds on songs like 'Could Have Been You' and, with the help of rapper Nas, on 'Governmentalist'."[19] Dan Aquilante of the New York Post wrote that the album presents Stone "at her bluesy, soul-singer best", citing "I Believe It to My Soul" and "Parallel Lines" as standout songs.[20] People magazine gave the album three out of four stars and noted that it shows that Stone is "still coming into her own as an artist, catching up to that big voice she's always had".[24] L. Kent Wolgamott of the Lincoln Journal Star gave the album a rating of A-, describing its tracks as "warm and vital, ranging from vintage '60s soul to contemporary R&B, finger-snapping up-tempo numbers, some tinges of funk and sultry ballads", while naming Stone a "blue-eyed soul heir to the great Dusty Springfield".[25]

Despite comparing Colour Me Free! '​s theme of "breaking free" to that of Introducing Joss Stone (2007), Allmusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine stated that Stone's "raw vocal skills remain impressive, as does her taste in soul, and even if this feels off-kilter, not quite achieving a balance between retro and modernity, it does beat with a messy human heart, one that was subdued on Introducing, so perhaps she did need to break free."[13] In a review for Entertainment Weekly, Chris Willman viewed the first half of the album as "the best set of music she's done", whereas the second half "succumbs to R&B overproducers, unfortunately, but for a while, she's on the right freedom trail."[16] PopMatters critic Colin McGuire praised album opener "Free Me" as "easily one of the best songs she's ever written", but further expressed that "setting the bar that high that early on makes it nearly impossible to follow up with anything that could be better, let alone on par with how great that first track is. That doesn't mean Colour Me Free is bad by any stretch of a soul music lover's imagination, but it does create a level of expectation that the rest of the album's tracks simply don't live up to."[21] Nick Levine of Digital Spy gave the album three out of five stars, dubbing it a "decent summery soul-pop record, albeit one that would have benefited from increased focus and some judicious slicing." He also believed that "even when the songs are less memorable, and especially when they're a little too long, Stone's vocals are strong enough to hold your attention."[26] The Independent '​s Simmy Richman opined that Stone's "voice sounds less likely to cause her damage, her material is (until some saggy bits towards the end) strong and her choice of guests [...] impeccable. In short, [the album] is better than it has any right to be."[27] Mikael Wood of the Los Angeles Times concluded the album "succeeds about as well as Stone's other records: It's quite good in the up-tempo bits [...] and a little soggy in the ballads."[18] BBC Music's Mike Diver referred to the album as "a serviceable collection of funk-kissed and pop-savvy soul numbers that expose their maker's songwriting immaturity by exuding the sense that contentment with each song was enough, rather than a tingling sensation followed by near-orgasmic outbursts of incredulity in response to a final mix."[28] Jim DeRogatis of the Chicago Sun-Times felt that "the problem is that Stone doesn't really have a master plan, or the discerning ear to tell her best moments [...] from her worst" and that "she seems more than a bit hypocritical railing against the system while remaining in its ranks and issuing this disc as yet another exclusive corporate commodity."[15] Angus Batey of Yahoo! Music UK gave the album eight stars out of ten and concluded, "this is a record that proves, again, Joss Stone's considerable worth."[29] Steve Jones of USA Today gave it a score of three-and-a-half stars out of four and said, "Stone has always worn her vintage soul influences on her sleeve, but that's OK. She sings with more grit and gusto than a battalion of R&B princesses while taking a sledgehammer to pop conventions. She feels free to vibe with her musicians and take a song wherever the feeling moves her. [...] She's assertive, sassy and lets lovers know that they play with her heart at their own risk."[30]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Producers Length
1. "Free Me"   Joss Stone, Jonathan Shorten, Conner Reeves, Kenya Baker Stone, Shorten, Reeves 3:53
2. "Could Have Been You"   Stone, Shorten, Reeves Stone, Shorten, Reeves 4:52
3. "Parallel Lines" (featuring Jeff Beck and Sheila E.) Stone, Shorten, Reeves Stone, Shorten, Reeves 4:26
4. "Lady"   Stone, Shorten, Reeves Stone, Shorten, Reeves 4:22
5. "4 and 20"   Stone, Shorten, Reeves Stone, Shorten, Reeves 5:06
6. "Big Ol' Game" (featuring Raphael Saadiq) Stone, Saadiq Stone, Saadiq 4:30
7. "Governmentalist" (featuring Nas) Stone, Shorten, Reeves, Neville Malcolm, Hayley Carline, Nas   5:42
8. "Incredible"   Stone, Shorten, Colin Hickson, Paddy Milner, Pete Cherry, Nikolaij Joel, Michael Bowes, Richie Stevens   2:46
9. "You Got the Love"   Arnecia Michelle Harris, Anthony B. Stephens   3:35
10. "I Believe It to My Soul" (featuring David Sanborn) Ray Charles Phil Ramone 4:29
11. "Stalemate" (with Jamie Hartman) Jamie Hartman, Camilla Boler, Stone Hartman 4:18
12. "Girlfriend on Demand"   Stone, Dan Mackenzie Mackenzie 4:30
13. "Mr. Wankerman" (Standard hidden track, not featured on US/CAN releases[31]) Stone, Javier Colon, Antonia Jenaé   13:44
  • "Free Me" embodies portions of "Do the Dirt" by The Meters.
  • "Big Ol' Game" was previously available as a bonus track on the Japanese edition of Introducing Joss Stone.



Chart (2009–10) Peak
Australian Digital Albums Chart[34] 36
Austrian Albums Chart[35] 17
Belgian Albums Chart (Flanders)[36] 50
Belgian Albums Chart (Wallonia)[37] 56
Canadian Albums Chart[38] 26
Croatian Albums Chart[39] 37
Dutch Albums Chart[40] 16
French Albums Chart[41] 63
German Albums Chart[42] 26
Italian Albums Chart[43] 53
Japanese Albums Chart[44] 102
Portuguese Albums Chart[45] 25
Swiss Albums Chart[46] 5
UK Albums Chart[47] 75
US Billboard 200[48] 10
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums[48] 9

Release history[edit]

Country Date Label
United States[13] 20 October 2009 Virgin Records
Canada[49] EMI
Austria[50] 30 October 2009
United Kingdom[31] 2 November 2009 Virgin Records
Spain[54] 3 November 2009 EMI
Brazil[55] 5 November 2009
Australia[56] 6 November 2009
Japan[57] 18 November 2009


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External links[edit]